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    Encrypted Email Service Tuta Mail Files DMA Complaint Against Google For Suppressing Search Rankings

    Tuta Mail, an encrypted email service, has filed a Digital Markets Act (DMA) complaint against Google for allegedly suppressing search results featuring the service. According to a bog posted by Tutao GmbH, Tuta Mail’s German parent company, Google stopped showing the service’s website for thousands of keywords, restricting search traffic to the site to so-called “branded traffic”, meaning that users who searched for terms like ‘encrypted email’ or ‘secure mail’ would no longer be shown the Tuta mail website. This led to a decrease in visibility of over 90%. The encrypted email service alleges, “Google in its function as gatekeeper is destroying our business through search results.”

    The post states that Tuta Mail (formerly Tutanota) is the second largest encrypted email service in the world and ranked highly in search results for terms like “encrypted email” and “secure email” up until March this year. However, Google has now stopped displaying the Tuta mail website at the top in search results for thousands of keywords, leading to total impressions dropping by 74%. The search engine has also stopped ranking the Tuta mail website highly in search results that don’t contain the company’s name or related branded keywords like “tuta”, resulting in a visibility drop of 89%, which still includes Russian language keywords or the company’s alternative domains. When all keywords are removed, the total loss of visibility stands at over 90%. Tuta mail also notes that the drop in impressions is significantly larger than the one they faced after their 2023 rebranding.

    The company also alleges that even branded search results are affected, as when German users search for the term ‘tutanota login’, the first result is not the website but the Tuta app on Google’s Play Store, while the second link is a Reddit thread. This result is not replicated for other search engines like Bing, Yahoo! or DuckDuckGo, which features the email service’s website as the first result. Tutao GmbH claims that the company attempted to raise the issue with Google through multiple avenues but did not receive any response. Google did not communicate any change in their search ranking preferences to Tutao.

    Tuta Mail calls on Google to fix the search issue. The post states, “It is not acceptable that our site has disappeared from Google Search, particularly for terms that are obviously so closely related to our product like “Tutanota login”, “encrypted email”, and “secure email”. 

    For the email service, such issues represent the necessity of the DMA. “We hope that by going public with this issue, we are finally able to reach the right people at Google so that they can fix the issue. If this is not the case, our last option will be to sue Google based on the DMA,” states Tutao.

    Notably, March 2024 is the deadline for online gatekeepers to comply with the DMA. Article 6(5) of the DMA states, “The gatekeeper shall not treat more favourably, in ranking and related indexing and crawling, services and products offered by the gatekeeper itself than similar services or products of a third party. The gatekeeper shall apply transparent, fair and non-discriminatory conditions to such ranking.” Companies are considered to be gatekeepers if they operate one or more ‘core platform services’, such as search engines, social networks, advertising, cloud computing or web browsers.

    First implemented in November 2022, the DMA is a European ex-ante regulation that seeks to control the dominance of large private corporations in the digital sector and promote fair competition. Google is currently being investigated by the European Commission, allegedly for self-preferencing its own services in search engine results. The EU stated that it will investigate whether Google, through its search results, would lead users to its own services (e.g., Google Shopping; Google Flights; Google Hotels) over competing services.

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    The post Encrypted Email Service Tuta Mail Files DMA Complaint Against Google For Suppressing Search Rankings appeared first on MediaNama.

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